A Label By Any Other Name

By my count, I’ve officially only been part of the LGBTQIA2S+ community for about 4 years. In that time, I’ve gone through label after label in an attempt to find words for who I am. I’ll admit that labels have always been present in my life, from my identity as an Oglala Lakota and Sicangu Lakota individual to the slightly more laid back label of “college graduate,” but my years in college helped cement a lot of my current labels. It took a solid time of reflection after graduation to finally cement who I wish to be and what labels come with that.

My main journey has been throughout my gender identity, which might fit the stereotypical trans woman narrative in some aspects. I started out my life with the label of “boy,” which I just always assumed was the right label for me because of the fact that I had always been known as that. I started to question that label in a subconscious manner when I had turned 13 or 14 and began to question whether or not I should have been a girl. However, I buried that in my mind until I reached college and started to talk things through with Kain. After some talking, I identified primarily as genderfluid for a couple of years, although I did lean further into the feminine aspects of the identity more often than not. It took my last year in college to come to the realization that I was more of a non-binary trans woman, which has been the label that has stuck internally.

The non-binary aspect mainly comes from the fact that after beginning HRT, I’ve been okay with my facial hair some of my body hair, as well as my deepish voice. I do still have struggles with trichotillomania when my facial hair gets too long where a beard would grow, but I’ve grown to appreciate my facial hair on occasion. I feel at peace with the aspects of my masculinity that I had always struggled with growing up.

As for my Two Spirit label, it’s mainly a way to reclaim my Indigenous identity. I had always struggled with the label that my tribe has had for people like myself: “winkte.” That word, meaning “to be like a woman,” was always used as a derogatory word for gay and feminine men. However, I don’t use the word as a label for myself, despite it technically being what my tribe uses. Two Spirit, to me, has a positive connotation mentally and hasn’t been used to degrade and humiliate people in my life. I may change my mind after more personal growth, but Two Spirit remains my label for my own reasons and as a way for more people to understand both my Indigenous and queer identities. In fact, I thank college for introducing me to the concept and label, because without it, I’d have forever had “winkte” as what I’d associate myself with.

If I were to revisit this topic at a later date, I’d want to focus primarily on my sexual identity. The main reason why I’m not choosing my sexual or romantic labels for this round mainly has to do with the fact that I’m still figuring things out. I also want to spend more time with a nuanced rant regarding the gatekeeping that I have experienced primarily with that aspect of my life. I’ve mainly been waiting for more ammunition for a post like this, and while there is some good ammo that I’ve gotten in the past couple of years, there’s still more to gather. So for lack of a better word, I will wait until I kinda get things together on my sexuality and then get gatekeeped out of either the L or the B of LGBTQIA2S+

– Evelyn

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